с Днём Рождения!…or, Happy Birthday!

с Днём Рождения! (Happy birthday!)

As the editor of the Mendeleyev Journal has just celebrated a birthday this week one alert reader has asked us to explain how birthdays are celebrated in Russia. Are there parties? Is there a birthday song? What kinds of birthday traditions do Russians celebrate?

These are excellent questions so we’ve asked our trusted language guide,Victoria (friends are privileged to call her “Vika”) to explain and she does here at this link. We hope you enjoy learning more about Russian birthday celebrations at her valuable website.

Victoria is not only a delightful person and excellent teacher, she is also the creator of http://www.funrussian.com and the series “Learn Russian the Fun Way.”

Of course if you simply wish to sing the “Happy Birthday” song in English that is so familiar from our childhood days, here are the words translated into Russian:

С днём рожденья тебя! С днём рожденья тебя!
С днём рожденья (person’s name)
С днём рожденья тебя!


Russia’s “duo” gone fishing

(Moscow) Yesterday former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev took center stage in Moscow at a downtown conference centre to criticize Russia’s Prime Minister and the current leadership. Gorbachev however took it easy on Medvedev, a sign that he sees Medvedev as an honest reformer, and reserved his harshest criticism for the Prime Minister. But not everybody had remained in Moscow this week.

Out in the Astrakhan region, President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin had gone fishing.

Wednesday, 17 August: President Medvedev (right) and Prime Minister Putin (left) fish on the Volga river.

One can hardly blame Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for wanting to get out of town. The past few days in Moscow have been warm and with many Russians without air conditioning, the days are challenging and at night sleeping requires some way to circulate the air. Out on the Volga river regions however the nights and early mornings cooler and the daytime temperatures more comfortable. Calling it a working trip, the President of Russia and his faithful tag-a-long Prime Minister did a little speedboat racing and took the time to set some hooks and go fishing.

Proving that he knows how to catch the big ones, President Medvedev shows off his skills at fishing.

The President and the Prime Minister guided motorboats on the Volga, reeled in some fish, and used a special underwater camera to look at the river’s underwater life. On Tuesday the President had met with local fishermen and attended meetings on the Volga river with the Natural Resources Ministry. Chaired by the President, the meeting included ideas for resolving environmental issues in the Volga River basin, preserving the river’s fauna and developing its fisheries, combating poaching, restoring the water system in the river’s delta, and overhaul of hydro-technical installations.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met with local Volga river fishermen.

Russia’s president is very much a natural “people person” and he also enjoyed having lunch with leaders of the local fishing community.

President Medvedev at lunch with Astrakhan area fishermen.

Later in formal meetings with representatives of the Natural Resources Ministry the president stressed that not only is local fishing in the region a vital part of the lifestyle, but the Volga is an important food and transportation resource for Russia. Mr. Medvedev said, “The Volga’s capacity for self-purification has declined sharply over the last decade. In the 1950s, this water was still considered suitable for drinking. True, standards were not as high back then, but nonetheless, the water was seen as safe to drink. Of the country’s 100 most polluted cities, 65 are located on the Volga. The economy suffers as a result of course, but worst of all, people suffer from a lack of high quality fresh water.”

President Medvedev also inspected the Caspian Fisheries Institute.

Russia’s large Volga River area is home to almost half of the Russian population. On Tuesday the President also met with Astrakhan regional governor Alexander Zhilkin. The Volga (Волга) is the largest river in Europe and flows thru central Russia. Part of the Caspian Sea system, it is often given the title as the national river of Russia and is referred to as Volga-Matushka (Volga-mother) in Russian history and literature.

Russia's Volga river. (photo: flyuia/livejournal)


New cost of consumer prices index

Inspired by questions from a reader, the Mendeleyev Journal will be soon releasing a new study on the cost of common consumer prices in Moscow. The report will focus on common items, indexing such things as the cost of a Metro ride,  a cup of tea or coffee, a typical restaurant meal, wine/beer, taxi fares and popular grocery and household items.

That study will be conducted over the next weeks and released before the end of August.

The Mendeleyev Journal staff is looking forward to meeting this month with representatives of a new project “To Russia With Ease” of which the Mendeleyev Journal plans to contribute lifestyle and cultural content. With an outstanding educational partner, Harvard University, we think that this new project will be an excellent resource for travelers to Russia.

Poland and Lithuania aid Belarussian dictator in arrest of freedom opposition leaders

(By MICHAEL SCHWIRTZ, The New York Times)

MOSCOW — Poland’s prime minister was forced to hastily apologize on Friday after it emerged that his government had apparently unwittingly aided in the arrest of a prominent human rights activist in Belarus by supplying banking information to officials there.

The Polish prosecutor’s office confirmed that it had sent details from the Polish bank account of the activist, Ales Belyatsky, as part of a routine information request, despite warnings from the Foreign Ministry to treat such requests with caution.

“I apologize on behalf on the Republic of Poland,” Radoslaw Sikorski, Poland’s prime minister, wrote on his Twitter account. “A reprehensible mistake despite the Foreign Ministry’s warnings. We will redouble efforts to support democracy in Belarus.”

The government of Lithuania also passed on similar information to Belarus; it has also apologized.

Read the rest of the article here.

A little vacation

The Mendeleyev Journal family will be doing some FSU vacationing so reports will be sparse in the remainder of August however the President will meet with Ukrainian President Yanukovich in Sochi on 11 August and then travel to Kazakhstan where he will oversee meetings of the Collective Security Organization in Astana on 12 August.

This week President Medvedev is putting the finishing touches on agreements regarding what the Russians call “integrated” military bases in the breakaway regions of Georgia, the Republic of South Ossetia and the Republic of Republic of Abkhazia. Russia will have full military bases on both territories and integrate training of local troops alongside Russian troops. Both treaties have been submitted to the Russian Federation Duma for ratification.

We will report on breaking and urgent events.

Medvedev signs pardon for Natalia Zakharova

Presidential Press Secretary Natalya Timakova let the cat out of the bag in July that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev planned to pardon Natalia Zakharova, the well known Russian actress now serving a three-year sentence for setting fire to her French ex-husband’s apartment.

Zakharova has fought over a decade for custody of her daughter but was arrested on charges of arson in France after returning from Russia in January 2010 for court hearings on her parental rights.  Her arson conviction came in a French court but based on the Russian-French Convention of 2003 she was allowed to serve her sentence in Russia.

Zakharova had married Frenchman Patrick Ouari in 1993 and moved to France, giving birth to their daughter, Maria, in 1995. The marriage ended soon thereafter and initially Zakharova was given custody of the daughter however in 1999 a French court placed the child in foster care after Ouari and Zakharova accused each other of child abuse.

A French court ruled that the child had been abused by the ex-husband but laid partial blame on the mother. Zakharova claimed that the French court had also found issue with the child’s religion. Baptized Orthodox, the court ruled that the child not be allowed to attend Orthodox services during visitation schedules with Zahkarova and instead assigned to the girl to Catholic foster parents.

In 2006 a Russian court recognized her parental rights, but a French court upheld its decision in 2007. This week Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed an order pardoning Zakharova, citing humanitarian reasons in a released statement.

New United Kingdom Ambassador to Russia

Russia will soon welcome Tim Barrow back to Moscow as he takes up the job as Ambassador for the United Kingdom. Barrow is not that new really to Russia having previously served as the second secretary at the Moscow Embassy from 1991 to 1993. Later he headed the Russian section at the Foreign Ministry for a year.

­Barrow will replace Dame Ann Pringle in November. Pringle has served as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United Kingdom to the Russian Federation since 2008. She was the first woman to hold the job in the 450-plus years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

So far the Home Office has not yet announced a new appointment for Pringle.

Barrow, is an Oxford graduate who worked at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office since 1986. Barrow is also highly regarded for his work in Ukraine and has been a frequent contributor and speaker in Kyiv at the British Ukrainian Society.